Man Cannot Know the Future; Teachers Lie

Isocrates, Against the Sophists 13.1-3 

“If all those who try to educate were to speak truly and not to make greater promises than they can guarantee, they would not be spoken of so badly by private citizens. But since they dare so thoughtlessly to pretend what they can do, they have effectively made it seem that those who chose an easy life made a better decision than those who waste their time on philosophy.

Truly, who wouldn’t hate and scorn first those who waste their time in [argumentative] strife as they pretend to seek the truth even though they set out to lie from the beginning of their careers?

I think that it is clear to everyone that it is not in our nature to predict the future, and that we are so far from this kind of knowledge that Homer, the poet appraised with the greatest reputation for wisdom, has made even the gods to take council about the future, not because he understood their minds, but because he wanted to show us that this is one of those things impossible for men.

But these ‘teachers’ have approached such daring that they try to persuade the youth that, if they come to them, they will know what must be done and become fortunate through this knowledge. And they make themselves teachers and masters of such good things that they are not ashamed to ask for three or for minae for their services.”

 

Εἰ πάντες ἤθελον οἱ παιδεύειν ἐπιχειροῦντες ἀληθῆ λέγειν καὶ μὴ μείζους ποιεῖσθαι τὰς ὑποσχέσεις ὧν ἔμελλον ἐπιτελεῖν, οὐκ ἂν κακῶς ἤκουον ὑπὸ τῶν ἰδιωτῶν· νῦν δ’ οἱ τολμῶντες λίαν ἀπερισκέπτως ἀλαζονεύεσθαι πεποιήκασιν ὥστε δοκεῖν ἄμεινον βουλεύεσθαι τοὺς ῥᾳθυμεῖν αἱρουμένους τῶν περὶ τὴν φιλοσοφίαν διατριβόντων.

Τίς γὰρ οὐκ ἂν μισήσειεν ἅμα καὶ καταφρονήσειεν πρῶτον μὲν τῶν περὶ τὰς ἔριδας διατριβόντων, οἳ προσποιοῦνται μὲν τὴν ἀλήθειαν ζητεῖν, εὐθὺς δ’ ἐν ἀρχῇ τῶν ἐπαγγελμάτων ψευδῆ λέγειν ἐπιχειροῦσιν;

Οἶμαι γὰρ ἅπασιν εἶναι φανερὸν ὅτι τὰ μέλλοντα προγιγνώσκειν οὐ τῆς ἡμετέρας φύσεώς ἐστιν, ἀλλὰ τοσοῦτον ἀπέχομεν ταύτης τῆς φρονήσεως ὥσθ’ ῞Ομηρος ὁ μεγίστην ἐπὶ σοφίᾳ δόξαν εἰληφὼς καὶ τοὺς θεοὺς πεποίηκεν ἔστιν ὅτε βουλευομένους ὑπὲρ αὐτῶν, οὐ τὴν ἐκείνων γνώμην εἰδὼς ἀλλ’ ἡμῖν ἐνδείξασθαι βουλόμενος ὅτι τοῖς ἀνθρώποις ἓν τοῦτο τῶν ἀδυνάτων ἐστίν.

Οὗτοι τοίνυν εἰς τοῦτο τόλμης ἐληλύθασιν, ὥστε πειρῶνται πείθειν τοὺς νεωτέρους ὡς, ἢν αὐτοῖς πλησιάζωσιν, ἅ τε πρακτέον ἐστὶν εἴσονται καὶ διὰ ταύτης τῆς ἐπιστήμης εὐδαίμονες γενήσονται. Καὶ τηλικούτων ἀγαθῶν αὑτοὺς διδασκάλους καὶ κυρίους καταστήσαντες οὐκ αἰσχύνονται τρεῖς ἢ τέτταρας μνᾶς ὑπὲρ τούτων αἰτοῦντες·

The Unremarkable Life of Phoinix the Thessalian Sophist

 

From Philostratus, Lives of the Sophists 22

 

“Phoinix the Thessalian is neither worthy of admiration nor, however, of being ignored completely. He was one of the students of Philagros, and he was better at invention than investigation—for although his thought was ordered, and he never said anything inappropriate to the moment, his style of speech seemed disconnected and out of rhythm. He was considered more effective with those who were just beginning their studies than those who were already possessed of some learning, since his subjects were just left unadorned and his diction did not dress them well. He died in Athens at age seventy and was buried in a conspicuous place, since he lies near those who died in the wars, on the right side of the road toward the Academy.”

κβ′. Φοῖνιξ δὲ ὁ Θετταλὸς οὐδὲ θαυμάσαι ἄξιος, οὐδὲ αὖ διαβαλεῖν πάντα. ἦν μὲν γὰρ τῶν Φιλάγρῳ πεφοιτηκότων, γνῶναι δὲ ἀμείνων ἢ ἑρμηνεῦσαι, τάξιν τε γὰρ τὸ νοηθὲν εἶχε καὶ οὐθὲν ἔξω καιροῦ ἐνοεῖτο, ἡ δὲ ἑρμηνεία διεσπάσθαι τε ἐδόκει καὶ ῥυθμοῦ ἀφεστηκέναι. ἐδόκει δὲ ἐπιτηδειότερος γεγονέναι τοῖς ἀρχομένοις τῶν νέων ἢ τοῖς ἕξιν τινὰ ἤδη κεκτημένοις, τὰ γὰρ πράγματα γυμνὰ ἐξέκειτο καὶ οὐ περιήμπισχεν αὐτὰ ἡ λέξις. ἑβδομηκοντούτης δὲ ἀποθανὼν ᾿Αθήνησιν ἐτάφη οὐκ ἀφανῶς, κεῖται γὰρ πρὸς τοῖς ἐκ τῶν πολέμων ἐν δεξιᾷ τῆς ᾿Ακαδημίανδε καθόδου.

How Not To Defend Oneself (Lucian’s Apology)

“Before all else, it is necessary that those who criticize me remember that they do not criticize a wise man—if, indeed, there is someone wise anywhere—but instead a man of the regular people who has prepared arguments and received some limited praise for them, even though he has not at all been trained in that pinnacle of virtue of the highest men. And, by Zeus, it would be sufficient for me not to be upset on this count, that I have not encountered some man yet who has paid in full a promise of wisdom. Certainly, I would be surprised if you were to find fault with my current life, if you would criticize the fact which you knew long ago, that I was earning a great deal of money for teaching rhetoric in public when you went to visit the Western Sea and the Celts and you met me, I was one of the highest-charging sophists!

These are the words, friend, which I offer as a defense to you, even amidst my rather busy schedule, since I think it is not at all a minor matter to acquire a clean slate from you. As for the others, even if they all accuse me at once, let this be enough of an answer: “Hippocleides don’t care”.  *

Πρὸ δὲ τῶν ὅλων μεμνῆσθαι χρὴ τοὺς ἐπιτιμῶντας ὅτι οὐ σοφῷ ὄντι μοι—εἰ δή τις καὶ ἄλλος ἐστί που σοφός—ἐπιτιμήσουσιν ἀλλὰ τῶν ἐκ τοῦ πολλοῦ δήμου, λόγους μὲν ἀσκήσαντι καὶ τὰ μέτρια ἐπαινουμένῳ ἐπ’ αὐτοῖς, πρὸς δὲ τὴν ἄκραν ἐκείνην τῶν κορυφαίων ἀρετὴν οὐ πάνυ γεγυμνασμένῳ. καὶ μὰ Δί’ οὐδ’ ἐπὶ τούτῳ ἀνιᾶσθαί μοι ἄξιον, ὅτι μηδὲ ἄλλῳ ἐγὼ γοῦν ἐντετύχηκα τὴν τοῦ σοφοῦ ὑπόσχεσιν ἀποπληροῦντι. σοῦ μέντοι καὶ θαυμάσαιμ’ ἂν ἐπιτιμῶντός μου τῷ νυνὶ βίῳ, εἴ γε ἐπιτιμῴης, ὃν πρὸ πολλοῦ ᾔδεις ἐπὶ ῥητορικῇ δημοσίᾳ μεγίστας μισθοφορὰς ἐνεγκάμενον, ὁπότε κατὰ θέαν τοῦ ἑσπερίου ᾿Ωκεανοῦ καὶ τὴν Κελτικὴν ἅμα ἐπιὼν ἐνέτυχες ἡμῖν τοῖς μεγαλομίσθοις τῶν σοφιστῶν ἐναριθμουμένοις.

Ταῦτά σοι, ὦ ἑταῖρε, καίτοι ἐν μυρίαις ταῖς  ἀσχολίαις ὢν ὅμως ἀπελογησάμην, οὐκ ἐν παρέργῳ θέμενος τὴν λευκὴν παρὰ σοῦ καὶ πλήρη μοι ἐνεχθῆναι· ἐπεὶ πρός γε τοὺς ἄλλους, κἂν συνάμα πάντες κατηγορῶσιν, ἱκανὸν ἂν εἴη μοι τό οὐ φροντὶς ῾Ιπποκλείδῃ.

*A quote from Herodotus 6.127-129.

Pro-Tip: The Difference between a Sophist and a Philosopher is Swagger

Philostratus, Lives of the Sophists 1.480-481: 

“It is necessary to consider the ancient sophistic art as a kind of rhetoric. For it presents discourses on the same things philosophers cover, but where the philosophers, in setting forth questions and in making small advances on their objects of investigations, assert that they still do not know anything, the ancient sophist claims that he does know the things he describes. At least, he recites as a beginning of his discourse phrases like “I know”, “I recognize”, and “I have noticed for some time,” or “Nothing is certain for man”. This species of introduction furnishes a sense of nobility and certainty to a speech along with implying a clear sense of what is real.”

Τὴν ἀρχαίαν σοφιστικὴν ῥητορικὴν ἡγεῖσθαι χρὴ φιλοσοφοῦσαν• διαλέγεται μὲν γὰρ ὑπὲρ ὧν οἱ φιλοσοφοῦντες, ἃ δὲ ἐκεῖνοι τὰς ἐρωτήσεις ὑποκαθήμενοι καὶ τὰ σμικρὰ τῶν ζητουμένων προβιβάζοντες οὔπω φασὶ γιγνώσκειν, ταῦτα ὁ παλαιὸς σοφιστὴς ὡς εἰδὼς λέγει. προοίμια γοῦν ποιεῖται τῶν λόγων τὸ „οἶδα” καὶ τὸ „γιγνώσκω” καὶ „πάλαι διέσκεμμαι” καὶ „βέβαιον ἀνθρώπῳ οὐδέν”. ἡ δὲ τοιαύτη ἰδέα τῶν προοιμίων εὐγένειάν τε προηχεῖ τῶν λόγων καὶ φρόνημα καὶ κατάληψιν
σαφῆ τοῦ ὄντος.

A Quip, The Sense of a Man; A Sip, The Character of a Wine: Philostratus on Anecdotes

Philostratus, Lives of the Sophists, 537

“This is another wonderful saying of that Lucius:

The Emperor Marcus [Aurelius] was excited about the philosopher Sextus from Boeotia, appearing at his lectures and visiting his home. Lucius, who had recently arrived in Rome, asked the emperor as he approached where he was going and why and Marcus responded “Learning is good, even for a man growing old. I am going to learn what I do not yet know from Sextus the Philosopher.” Then Lucius raised his hand to the sky and said “Zeus! The aging Emperor of Rome dons a writing tablet and goes to school, but my king Alexander died at thirty-two!”

These sayings suffice to show the character of the work Lucius performed in his philosophy. Such anecdotes, I suppose, give a sense of the man the way a taste betrays the character of a wine.”

Λουκίου τούτου κἀκεῖνο θαυμάσιον·

ἐσπούδαζε μὲν ὁ αὐτοκράτωρ Μάρκος περὶ Σέξτον τὸν ἐκ Βοιωτίας φιλόσοφον, θαμίζων αὐτῷ καὶ φοιτῶν ἐπὶ θύρας, ἄρτι δὲ ἥκων ἐς τὴν ῾Ρώμην ὁ Λούκιος ἤρετο τὸν αὐτοκράτορα προιόντα, ποῖ βαδίζοι καὶ ἐφ’ ὅ τι, καὶ ὁ Μάρκος „καλὸν” ἔφη „καὶ γηράσκοντι τὸ μανθάνειν· εἶμι δὴ πρὸς Σέξτον τὸν φιλόσοφον μαθησόμενος, ἃ οὔπω οἶδα.” καὶ ὁ Λούκιος ἐξάρας τὴν χεῖρα ἐς τὸν οὐρανὸν „ὦ Ζεῦ,” ἔφη „ὁ ῾Ρωμαίων βασιλεὺς γηράσκων ἤδη δέλτον ἐξαψάμενος ἐς διδασκάλου φοιτᾷ, ὁ δὲ ἐμὸς βασιλεὺς ᾿Αλέξανδρος δύο καὶ τριάκοντα ἐτῶν ἀπέθανεν.” ἀπόχρη καὶ τὰ εἰρημένα δεῖξαι τὴν ἰδέαν, ἣν ἐφιλοσόφει Λούκιος, ἱκανὰ γάρ που ταῦτα δηλῶσαι τὸν ἄνδρα, καθάπερ τὸν ἀνθοσμίαν τὸ γεῦμα.

The sentiment in the final line is similar to the more famous assertion of Plutarch in the Life of Alexander (1.2-3)

“A brief deed or comment or even some joke often shows the imprint of a man’s character more than battles of a thousand corpses, the greatest campaigns or sieges of cities.”

ἀλλὰ πρᾶγμα βραχὺ πολλάκις καὶ ῥῆμα καὶ παιδιά τις ἔμφασιν ἤθους ἐποίησε μᾶλλον ἢ μάχαι μυριόνεκροι καὶ παρατάξεις αἱ μέγισται καὶ πολιορκίαι πόλεων.

The full text.

Plutarch.

Money’s No Good Unless You Use It for Good: The Life of Herodes the Sophist

On the Wealth of Herodes the Athenian (Philostratus, Lives of the Sophists, 547)

“[Herodes] used his wealth in the best way of all men. We do not, however, believe that this was the easiest thing to do, but instead that it was wholly difficult and unpleasant.  For men who are drunk with wealth usually afflict other people with insults. In addition, they make the specious claim that wealth is blind—but even if wealth appears rightly blind at other times, it looked upon Herodes: it gazed upon his friends, his cities, and whole nations since the man was able to keep a watch over them all and make a storehouse of his riches in the opinions of the men with whom he shared them.

For he used to say indeed that it was necessary for the man who would use wealth correctly to provide it to those who need it so that they may not be in need and also to those who didn’t need it, so that they might not become impoverished. He used to call wealth that was not used and was hoarded up by envy “corpse wealth” and the storehouses of those who hoarded their riches “prisons of wealth. He mocked those who believed it was right to sacrifice to their accumulated riches “Aloadae” because [Otos and Ephialtes] had sacrificed to Ares after they imprisoned him.”*

῎Αριστα δὲ ἀνθρώπων πλούτῳ ἐχρήσατο. τουτὶ δὲ μὴ τῶν εὐμεταχειρίστων ἡγώμεθα, ἀλλὰ τῶν παγχαλέπων τε καὶ δυσκόλων, οἱ γὰρ πλούτῳ μεθύοντες  ὕβριν τοῖς ἀνθρώποις ἐπαντλοῦσιν. προσδιαβάλλουσι δὲ ὡς καὶ τυφλὸν τὸν πλοῦτον, ὃς εἰ καὶ τὸν ἄλλον χρόνον ἐδόκει τυφλός, ἀλλ’ ἐπὶ ῾Ηρώδου ἀνέβλεψεν, ἔβλεψε μὲν γὰρ ἐς φίλους, ἔβλεψε δὲ ἐς πόλεις, ἔβλεψε δὲ ἐς ἔθνη, πάντων περιωπὴν ἔχοντος τοῦ ἀνδρὸς καὶ θησαυρίζοντος τὸν πλοῦτον ἐν ταῖς τῶν μετεχόντων αὐτοῦ γνώμαις. ἔλεγε γὰρ δή, ὡς προσήκοι τὸν ὀρθῶς πλούτῳ χρώμενον τοῖς μὲν δεομένοις ἐπαρκεῖν, ἵνα μὴ δέωνται, τοῖς δὲ μὴ δεομένοις, ἵνα μὴ δεηθῶσιν, ἐκάλει τε τὸν μὲν ἀσύμβολον πλοῦτον καὶ φειδοῖ κεκολασμένον νεκρὸν πλοῦτον, τοὺς δὲ θησαυρούς, ἐς οὓς ἀποτίθενται τὰ χρήματαἔνιοι, πλούτου δεσμωτήρια, τοὺς δὲ καὶ θύειν ἀξιοῦντας ἀποθέτοις χρήμασιν ᾿Αλωάδας ἐπωνόμαζε θύοντας ῎Αρει μετὰ τὸ δῆσαι αὐτόν.

*This story is told in the Iliad 5.385 as part of Dione’s catalogue of mortals who caused the gods harm.  Otus and Ephialtes captured Ares and put him in a bronze jar.

The Wit and Wisdom of Nicetes of Smyrna

Philostratus, Lives of the Sophists 511

“Even though he was held in high esteem in Smyrna, which would shout almost anything in praise of him as a wondrous man and orator, Nicetes did not mix much with the people. He gave the following explanation of his fear to the crowd: “I fear the people more when they praise me than when they mock me.” Once when a tax-man acted offensively to him in the court room and said “Stop barking at me”, Nicetes responded cleverly, “By Zeus, I will when you stop biting me!”

Μεγάλων δ’ ἀξιούμενος τῆς Σμύρνης τί οὐκ ἐπ’ αὐτῷ βοώσης ὡς ἐπ’ ἀνδρὶ θαυμασίῳ καὶ ῥήτορι, οὐκ ἐθάμιζεν ἐς τὸν δῆμον, ἀλλ’ αἰτίαν παρὰ τοῖς πολλοῖς ἔχων φόβου „φοβοῦμαι” ἔφη „δῆμον ἐπαίροντα μᾶλλον ἢ λοιδορούμενον.” τελώνου δὲ θρασυναμένου ποτὲ πρὸς αὐτὸν ἐν δικαστηρίῳ καὶ εἰπόντος „παῦσαι ὑλακτῶν με” μάλα ἀστείως ὁ Νικήτης „νὴ Δία”, εἶπεν „ἢν καὶ σὺ παύσῃ δάκνων με.”

Nicetes lived around the time of the Emperor Nero.

Antiphon of Rhamnos–Good Man or Bad Man? Philostratus Doesn’t Know

From the Lives of the Sophists 498

“I don’t know if Anitphon of Rhamnos should be called a good man or a bad one. He may be called good for the following reasons: he was a general many times and was victorious for the most part, increasing the Athenian fleet with sixty fully-equipped triremes. He seemed to be the most capable of men at speaking and reasoning. For these reasons, he merits praise from me or any other. But he rightly appears a wicked man on these counts: He destroyed the democracy, he enslaved the Athenian people, he was a friend to the Spartans, at first secretly but later in the open, and he foisted upon the Athenian state the constitution of the Four-hundred Tyrants.”

᾿Αντιφῶντα δὲ τὸν ῾Ραμνούσιον οὐκ οἶδ’, εἴτε χρηστὸν δεῖ προσειπεῖν, εἴτε φαῦλον. χρηστὸς μὲν γὰρ προσειρήσθω διὰ τάδε· ἐστρατήγησε πλεῖστα, ἐνίκησε πλεῖστα, ἑξήκοντα τριήρεσι πεπληρωμέναις ηὔξησεν ᾿Αθηναίοις τὸ ναυτικόν, ἱκανώτατος ἀνθρώπων ἔδοξεν εἰπεῖν τε καὶ γνῶναι· διὰ μὲν δὴ ταῦτα ἐμοί τε ἐπαινετέος καὶ ἑτέρῳ. κακὸς δ’ ἂν εἰκότως διὰ τάδε φαίνοιτο· κατέλυσε τὴν δημοκρατίαν, ἐδού-λωσε τὸν ᾿Αθηναίων δῆμον, ἐλακώνισε κατ’ ἀρχὰς μὲν ἀφανῶς, ὕστερον δ’ ἐπιδήλως, τυράννων τετρακοσίων δῆμον ἐπαφῆκε τοῖς ᾿Αθηναίων πράγμασιν.

I don’t know, Philostratus, whether or not I should consider this opening a purely rhetorical question or not. On the one hand, you do well in the creation of your dichotomy, but on the other hand, the merits of the case seem to render this grammatical balance rather false and forced.  Perhaps add the teaching of Thucydides into the mix?

Protagoras of Abdera, Agnostic and Behavioral Economist? (Philostratus, Vita Sophist. 495-6)

“Protagoras of Abdera, the sophist, was also a follower of Democritus at home; and he spent time among the Persian magi as well when Xerxes invaded Greece. His father Maiandros had acquired more wealth than most in Thrace; he entertained Xerxes at his home and used gifts to ensure an audience for his son with the magi. The Persian magi do not teach even Persians unless the king says so.

It seems to me that when Protagoras used to say that he was whether there were gods on not he was borrowing it from the Persian education. For the magi worship the gods in the acts they perform secretly, but they do not confess open belief in the divine because they do not wish to seem to derive power from them. For saying this, Protagoras was exiled from all the lands under Athens’ power, after he was convicted according to some in a trial, but according to others there was a vote without a trial. He moved from shore to shore among the islands, all while watching out for Athenian triremes which were spread in every part of the sea. He drowned while sailing in a small skiff.

He was the first to give a lecture for a fee and as the first to give to the Greeks a practice which should not be criticized, since we pursue those things we paid for more eagerly than we welcome whatever comes free. Plato believed that while Protagoras spoke with dignity, he obscured himself with his dignity and was somewhat more verbose than was fit, and he characterized the type of man he was by using a long myth.”

[The last bit is a reference to Protagoras 349a and Gorgias 530c]

Πρωταγόρας δὲ ὁ ᾿Αβδηρίτης σοφιστὴς καὶ Δημοκρίτου μὲν ἀκροατὴς οἴκοι ἐγένετο, ὡμίλησε δὲ καὶ τοῖς ἐκ Περσῶν μάγοις κατὰ τὴν Ξέρξου ἐπὶ τὴν ῾Ελλάδα ἔλασιν. πατὴρ γὰρ ἦν αὐτῷ Μαίανδρος πλούτῳ κατεσκευασμένος παρὰ πολλοὺς τῶν ἐν τῇ Θρᾴκῃ, δεξάμενος δὲ καὶ τὸν Ξέρξην οἰκίᾳ τε καὶ δώροις τὴν ξυνουσίαν τῶν μάγων τῷ παιδὶ παρ’ αὐτοῦ εὕρετο. οὐ γὰρ παιδεύουσι τοὺς μὴ Πέρσας Πέρσαι μάγοι, ἢν μὴ ὁ βασιλεὺς ἐφῇ. τὸ δὲ ἀπορεῖν φάσκειν, εἴτε εἰσὶ θεοί, εἴτε οὐκ εἰσί, δοκεῖ μοι Πρωταγόρας ἐκ τῆς Περσικῆς παιδεύσεως παρανομῆσαι· μάγοι γὰρ ἐπιθειάζουσι μὲν οἷς ἀφανῶς δρῶσι, τὴν δὲ ἐκ φανεροῦ δόξαν τοῦ θείου καταλύουσιν οὐ βουλόμενοι δοκεῖν παρ’ αὐτοῦ δύνασθαι. διὰ μὲν δὴ τοῦτο πάσης γῆς ὑπὸ ᾿Αθηναίων ἠλάθη, ὡς μέν τινες, κριθείς, ὡς δὲ ἐνίοις δοκεῖ, ψήφου ἐπενεχθείσης μὴ κριθέντι. νήσους δὲ ἐξ ἠπείρων ἀμείβων καὶ τὰς ᾿Αθηναίων τριήρεις φυλαττόμενος πάσαις θαλάτταις ἐνεσπαρμένας κατέδυ πλέων ἐν ἀκατίῳ μικρῷ.

Τὸ δὲ μισθοῦ διαλέγεσθαι πρῶτος εὗρε, πρῶτος δὲ παρέδωκεν ῞Ελλησι πρᾶγμα οὐ μεμπτόν, ἃ γὰρ σὺν δαπάνῃ σπουδάζομεν, μᾶλλον ἀσπαζόμεθα τῶν προῖκα. γνοὺς δὲ τὸν Πρωταγόραν ὁ Πλάτων σεμνῶς μὲν ἑρμηνεύοντα, ἐνυπτιάζοντα δὲ τῇ σεμνότητι καί που καὶ μακρολογώτερον τοῦ συμμέτρου, τὴν ἰδέαν αὐτοῦ μύθῳ μακρῷ ἐχαρακτήρισεν.

Favorinus Was A Hermaphrodite Tried for Adultery (Philostratus, Lives of the Sophists 489)

While waiting for students to come to office hours today (and they never did), I was reading Philostratus’ Lives of the Sophists and came across the following anecdote about the sophist Favorinus.

“Similarly, eloquence enrolled Favorinus among the ranks of the sophists. He was one who came from the Gauls in the west, from the city of Arelatus [Arles] near the Eridanus river [the Rhone]. He was born double-formed, that is, a hermaphrodite, and this was clear also in his appearance since his face was beardless as he grew old. It was also clear from his voice—it sounded high-pitched, thin, and shrill, the type of voice nature fits to eunuchs. But he was so hot about sex that he incurred a charge of adultery from a man of consular rank. Despite the fact that he argued with the emperor Hadrian, he suffered no ill. For this reason he used to prophesy that his life had these three paradoxes: Even though he was from Gaul, he lived as a Greek; even though he was a eunuch, he had been to court for adultery; and he had fought with a king and lived….”

῾Ομοίως καὶ Φαβωρῖνον τὸν φιλόσοφον ἡ εὐγλωττία ἐν σοφισταῖς ἐκήρυττεν. ἦν μὲν γὰρ τῶν ἑσπερίων Γαλατῶν οὗτος, ᾿Αρελάτου πόλεως, ἣ ἐπὶ ᾿Ηριδανῷ ποταμῷ ᾤκισται, διφυὴς δὲ ἐτέχθη καὶ ἀνδρόθηλυς, καὶ τοῦτο ἐδηλοῦτο μὲν καὶ παρὰ τοῦ εἴδους, ἀγενείως γὰρ τοῦ προσώπου καὶ γηράσκων εἶχεν, ἐδηλοῦτο δὲ καὶ τῷ φθέγματι, ὀξυηχὲς γὰρ ἠκούετο καὶ λεπτὸν καὶ ἐπίτονον, ὥσπερ ἡ φύσις τοὺς εὐνούχους ἥρμοκεν. θερμὸς δὲ οὕτω τις ἦν τὰ ἐρωτικά, ὡς καὶ μοιχοῦ λαβεῖν αἰτίαν ἐξ ἀνδρὸς ὑπάτου. διαφορᾶς δὲ αὐτῷ πρὸς ᾿Αδριανὸν βασιλέα γενομένης οὐδὲν ἔπαθεν. ὅθεν ὡς παράδοξα ἐπεχρησμῴδει τῷ ἑαυτοῦ βίῳ τρία ταῦτα· Γαλάτης ὢν ἑλληνίζειν, εὐνοῦχος ὢν μοιχείας κρίνεσθαι, βασιλεῖ διαφέρεσθαι καὶ ζῆν. τουτὶ δὲ ᾿Αδριανοῦ ἔπαινος εἴη ἂν μᾶλλον, εἰ βασιλεὺς ὢν ἀπὸ τοῦ ἴσου διεφέρετο πρὸς ὃν ἐξῆν ἀποκτεῖναι. βασιλεὺς δὲ κρείττων,

This is truly a strange tale about Favorinus and I am not quite sure what to make of his hermaphroditism (which seems treated here without prejudice or extensive comment). The term Philostratus uses to describe it (ἀνδρόθηλυς) only occurs in one other place (Schol. To Lykophron 212.48). The anecdote itself is funny—but I think it might be a really interesting place to start a cultural history of the motif of hermaphroditism in the ancient world.

Alas, I am not a cultural historian….